When I was 8 or 9, one of my older brothers came home from school with this book in hand. They were reading it in class and he was bored and hated it. I was curious about it, so I grabbed it and stole upstairs to read.
I only got a few chapters in before he took it back, but he promised to bring it back for me. Eventually my mom bought me my own copy, which I finished quickly.
What I found in Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell was a story of survival and courage. At this same stage in my life I was discovering the wonders of Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Little House on the Prairie. Much like Wilder, O'Dell captured a small portion of history and survival in a way that made it so appealing to me as the reader.
I truly believe that O'Dell and Wilder showed me how history was the story of the people who lived in it, not the facts. I have them to blame for that degree I have from MSU.
And it was a story like this-of a girl left alone on an island for years-that truly captured my imagination. Forgotten by her people in the middle of a storm, Karana is left alone for years on an island. Instead of being able to rely on those around her, she is the one who must hunt and gather. She must make her own weapons to survive. And survive she does.
It was a story I read over and over again. My copy of this book is battered and torn in two, but I still love every page of it. I ended up getting every Scott O'Dell book I could and reading them, and while a few more were wonderful and enthralling as well, Island of the Blue Dolphins remained my favorite.
This book is probably the reason I loved Robinson Crusoe so much, as well as countless other tales of survival and loneliness. It was the first of the genre I had read and for that, I remember it and cherish it.